A pair of postseason strangers face off when Eastern Michigan meets Old Dominion in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in Nassau, Bahamas, on Dec. 23. While the Monarchs have never played in a bowl game, the Eagles make their first appearance in 29 years. The two teams are no strangers to each other, however, as Old Dominion defeated Eastern Michigan in a shootout on the road last season 38-34, getting a 45-yard touchdown run with 1:57 to play for the winning margin.
Chris Creighton directed the turnaround for Eastern Michigan, which won a combined three games in his first two years with the program. Creighton took over for coach Ron English, who was fired after addressing his team with what the school’s administration deemed as “wholly inappropriate language” in 2013. Quarterback Brogan Roback fuels the offense, throwing for 2,394 yards with 16 touchdowns and he passed for 468 yards and three scores in the Eagles’ bowl-clinching win over Ball State earlier in the season.
Old Dominion’s only loss in Conference USA play came to Western Kentucky but it proved to spell the end of its title hopes as both teams finished 7-1 in conference play. The Monarchs averaged 36 points per game (27th in the FBS) led by David Washington, who is one of four FBS quarterbacks to have thrown for 25 touchdown passes with four or fewer interceptions. Washington threw for 2,648 yards overall while completing 59.7 percent of his passes for the Monarchs, who ride a five-game winning streak all of which came by double figures.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Old Dominion opened as 3-point favorites and the spread climbed up a full point to 4. The total hit the betting board at 64, went as high as 65 before fading back down to 63.5. View the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “A lot of public support for Old Dominion, possibly spurred by the motivation of its first bowl game. We have 70 percent of the tickets on the Monarchs, mostly small bets as there hasn’t been much interest from the sharper players thus far.” – Scott Cooley of BookMaker.eu
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau is partly sunny skies with a chance of showers and temperatures in the low-80’s for the afternoon kickoff. There will be a bit of wind out of the east ranging from 10-14 mph.
Eastern Michigan – RB Ian Eriksen (questionable, undisclosed)
Old Dominion – TE Melvin Vaughn (questionable, ankle), QB David Washington (questionable, knee)
* Eagles are 6-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Monarchs are 1-4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Monarchs are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.
* Over is 4-0 in Eagles last 4 games on grass.
* Over is 5-1 in Monarchs last 6 games on grass.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing Old Dominion with 61 percent of the bets being laid on the Monarchs. Users are split 50/50 on the total. View full consensus date here.